Alexander Pushkin was Russia's first true literary genius. Best known for his poetry, he also wrote sparkling prose that revealed his national culture with elegance and understated humour. Here, his gift for portraying the Russian people is fully revealed. "The Tales of Belkin", his first prose masterpiece, presents a series of interlinked stories narrated by a good-hearted Russian squire - among them "The Shot", in which a duel is revisited after many years, and the grotesque "The Undertaker". Elsewhere, works such as the novel-fragment "Roslavlev" and the "Egyptian Nights", the tale of an Italian balladeer seeking an audience in St. Petersberg, demonstrate the wide range of Pushkin's fiction. "A Journey to Arzrum", the final piece in this collection, offers an autobiographical account of Pushkin's own experiences in the 1829 war between Russia and Turkey, and remains one of the greatest of all pieces of journalistic adventure writing.